CREATED: January 16, 2014 by John Maino for The Maino Project on NBC 26
Appleton, WI -- Becoming a member of an elite military team. It's about as tough of a challenge as you can find. In Appleton, a former leader of a Marines special operations unit is giving young recruits a taste of what to expect as they follow their dream.
They're young marine recruits who hope to take it to the highest level.
"My goal is to become a United States Recon Marine and travel the world and defend the country," said Jack Gage.
Jeremy Jansen says, "I want to be a reconnaissance man in the Marine Corps. It's always been a dream of mine, and I want to be the best."
John Maino asks, "What do your friends say when you say you want to be a Marine?"
"They just look at me and say, 'You're crazy.' I tell them, 'You know what? I want to do what I want to do,'" Zak Hollenback responds.
It's the reason they spend hours under the tutelage of former Marine Recon leader Dave James. They want to get a head start and a taste of what will be the most challenging of experiences.
"The attrition rate is something like 70% for the U.S. Navy Seals force recon community, so I get out there to get them some mentoring and some insight and coaching and preparation for them to grab their dream to be in the special operations community," said James.
Even current Marines who are looking to make a move take the plunge. As grueling as it may be physically, it's the other aspect that leads to the most washouts.
"Mental is probably the worst part about it. Anybody can physically prep themselves for anything but if you can't break that mental barrier, you're going to fall faster than a one winged bird."
There doesn't seem to be a lack of determination.
"You're going to have to really want it. You're going to have to stay motivated towards it and really have a goal," said Maverick Peterson.
This determination is vital, because even a guy who has been there and done that can't quite explain what it's going to be like.
"I can't even give you any specific words, because you put on those boots and you go into that arena of Special Forces Seals, Green Berets, Army Ranger Force Recon. I couldn't put it in words. You have to do it to experience that type of training," said James.